I had to replace the tissue box on my desk in the library twice last week. Coughs, sneezes, and headaches abound. It is cold and flu season, and some students need to stay home and get better.
I know how it is, though. I know some kids would rather come to school sick than cope with the aftermath of a few sick days at home. I know it feels overwhelming to be home sick and then return to missed assignments, and tests looming, and math equations that you have no idea how to solve. So, some kids would rather drag themselves to school sick than cope with the re-entry after a few needed days at home.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Sick days are necessary sometimes, and your child can learn how to re-enter school after a few days on the couch. I’ll show you how you can help.
The first thing your child should do when they are down for the count is email their teachers and let them know they are sick, and will be out for a few days. You should definitely not be the person emailing your child’s teachers, but you can help with wording or with finding email addresses. After the email is sent, don’t give school another thought – just get better.
Begin to Do Some Easy Work
After they have some of this get well soup, and are feeling up to it, then they should check online and get an idea of what they have missed so far. Maybe they could then decide to do some work from the couch. Things like memorization, textbook reading, or copying class notes friends have sent them could be done from the couch. BUT. It is a sick day, and the idea is to get better not caught up, not yet.
Work with Teachers to Make a Plan
When the day arrives that they feel well enough to return to school, they should speak with each teacher either before or after class starts. Here is an example of what capable students say,
“Mrs. X, I’ve been out sick since Tuesday with the flu. I have looked at the class page online and I see I missed the test on chapter 7, and notes on Chapter 8. I am still figuring out a plan to get caught up with all my classes, and I am wondering if I could email you tonight with a date for me to makeup the test? Also, I was able to read Chapter 8 and get class notes from a friend, and so I feel good about that.”
Students should also email teachers the plan they agreed on, so that there are no misunderstandings about when the work will be made up.
Being Sick is the Student’s Burden – Not the Teacher’s Burden
Teachers expect for kids to be out sick, and know that they will have to make accommodations to help students to get caught up. But, I can promise you that the worst thing any student can say in this situation is this,
“Um, I’ve been sick, and I just want to know if I missed anything?”
Can you imagine how much that question insults teachers? Beyond the insult, it puts the burden of the absence on the wrong person. Capable students take responsibility for their work and are proactive. They do not stand passively hoping their teacher will say “no, you didn’t miss anything.”
That first evening when your recovering-from-being-sick capable student comes home, I would help them plan out when they think they can take any missed tests or quizzes and turn in any missed assignments. Then, they should email the teachers with the proposed plan. A rule of thumb is that the student should be caught up by the number of days they were absent. So, home sick for three days means you should be caught up on the third day after you return.
Being sick is not fun.
Coming to school sick is not fun.
Getting other people sick because you came to school sick is not nice.
So, stay home, get some rest, and follow the Raising The Capable Students plan for returning to school healthy and ready to go.
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Maureen Paschal is a freelance writer, a teacher-librarian, and a mom of four almost grown kids. She blogs at Raising The Capable Student where her goal is helping parents to keep family life a priority and school success in perspective. Her work has been featured in On Parenting from the Washington Post, Grown and Flown, Perfection Pending, and Today Parents.